Chapter 18

"A Forced Agreement"

"So... Magma went in here, didn't they?" Mal asked.

"I'm sure they did, that's what that Magma Admin said anyhow, and this is where Archie wants us to check out." Edgar replied looking at Mal ready to get the show on the road.

"Let's go!" Mal cried running ahead towards the cavern with Edgar following closely behind her.

Edgar and Mal ran towards the cavern, hoping against all hope that this wouldn't turn out to be a trap.

"I just hope this isn't a trap…." Mal muttered running after Edgar towards the cave. "How are we supposed to find Karania if they have her locked up in Team Magma's base, you idiot!" Mal cried glaring at Edgar.

"Then we figure out a way to save her!" Edgar cried annoyed. "Really, where is your sense of adventure! Don't tell me you want to give up and leave Karania in Team Magma's evil clutches!"

"Are you paranoid or something? I never said anything like that!" she narrowed her eyes at Edgar.

While the two were arguing, Team Magma members were entering the cave and surrounding the two kids, who hadn't noticed them yet since they were still bickering.

"I can't believe the two little maggots got this far..." Courtney said. "But it's sad. They can't even notice us. I feel hurt..." she mocked, placing her hands on her hips.

The Team Magma agents after they had surrounded the kids, Courtney said, "Well! What have we here! The twerp duo, it seems!" She cried triumphantly.

Mal turned, folding her arms. "We haven't got time for you idiots! Where's Karania?"

"Ah! But you'll be joining her shortly! Seize them!" Courtney cried to the other members.

"What do we do?" Mal began to run towards the far side of the cavern as she called to Edgar.

"Shut up and run!" Edgar cried as they cried to make a break for the exit on the opposite end of the cavern.

"Oh, great...!" it was then that they slipped on the shelf-like floors of the cavern, and fell to the bottom.

While Mal and Edgar skidded to the bottom, several Team Magma members at the bottom ran forward to seize the two kids like Courtney had instructed. "HA! We got you!" A Magma grunt cried triumphantly when they had the two kids in their grasp.

"Let go, you creep!" Mal struggled to break free of the grunt's grasp, but to no avail. "Lemme... ugh! Lemme go!"

The grunts grabbed Edgar and dragged them up the slope to the center of the cave before heading to a wall and activating a hidden switch to open a secret panel that revealed an entrance to their base.

"Crap, I can't believe this..." Mal grumbled, and began struggling again. "C'mon, Edgar! I am NOT going to get caught so easily!"

Courtney pulled out her small pistol, "You will be unless you want to get a taste of this!" She waved the pistol menacingly.

Mal didn't dare utter another word at the sight of the gun, but rolled her eyes. "What, you think waving it is gonna scare me?"

"Oh really?" Courtney pointed it at Mal. "How about now?" She laughed an evil laugh that showed her pleasure in the current situation.

"I bet there isn't any ammo in it."

Courtney cocked the gun, "And I tell you it's loaded, what's the poor baby gonna do?" Courtney taunted and then laughed keeping the gun pointed at Mal while doing so.

"Then fire. I wanna see if you're really able to do something like that. Shoot a kid." she grinned smugly.

"If the boss didn't want you alive, I'd shoot you dead, but my orders were to bring you to him alive, so walk! Inside NOW! And there will be no more talking from the twerp duo, if you know what's good for you!" Courtney snarled while starting to get seriously angry and annoyed.

"What's wrong? You afraid?" Mal continued her taunts, but she knew when to stop... of course, she hadn't reached her limit, yet.

Courtney pointed the gun in Mal's face, "Shut up! Unless you want to eat lead, that is!" She screeched.

"Then make me! I'm waiting..."

Courtney drew back the gun and hit Mal over the head with it to render her unconscious so she couldn't argue anymore. Once Mal was unconscious, Courtney turned to the grunts and said, "Take them inside, and lock them up in separate cells, and do it now before I really get mad!"

A couple hours later, Mal and Edgar discovered that they were still locked up in relatively filthy cells. Well, Edgar already knew, but the same couldn't be said for Mal as she was still unconscious on the floor of her own respective cell that was separate from that of Edgar's.

Mal sat up, rubbing her head. "Ow... what happened?" she looked around for Edgar, but didn't see him. "Edgar?"

"I hear you... We were put in separate cells..." Edgar replied his voice sounding like it was coming from across the room.

"Well, at least you're here... it's no fun talking to an empty room." her voice echoed softly.

"Yeah, but I've called Karania's name out while you were unconscious and got no answer... She's not down here..." Edgar's voice called from across the room.

"Well... we're gonna find her, then!"

"Just how are we supposed to do that, ole wise one, if we're locked up?" Edgar mocked her from his cell.

Mal began to search for a way to unlock the door-- she shook the bars, fumbled with the lock, but didn't get any results. "Quiet, you!" she growled at Edgar, before resuming trying to open the door.

Tabitha walked down the hallway to the prison compound and unlocked Mal's cell, "The boss wants to see you, you little brat!" Tabitha grabbed Mal's wrist and dragged her out of her cell to take her up to Maxie's office.

"Hey! Let go!" Mal kicked her right foot out, trying to hit Tabitha. She didn't care where it hit him, she was simply tired of being handled so roughly. "That is no way to treat a frail woman like me!"

Tabitha dodged her foot and tightened his grip on her arm and continued to drag her up the hall towards Maxie's office despite Mal's protests.

"That is no way to treat a lady at all! You should be ashamed of yourself! Why, I oughta...!" she continued her bickering until she couldn't be heard anymore.

Maxie turned around when he heard the door to his office open and his eyes fell on Mal, "Well, well, well, if it isn't the little pest who interfered in the Cave of Origin..." Maxie smirked an evil smile. "Karania is here too... Though that's not the point of this meeting..."

"Then what is it? I'm bored already." Mal replied, sighing.

Maxie narrowed his eyes at Mal. "Keep your mouth shut, you little brat."

"Why should I? I demand you tell me where Karania is!" Mal cried out in annoyance.

"Do you not understand English!" Maxie yelled as he stomped his foot in frustration.

Mal crossed her arms, "Fine!" She fell silent.

"You seem to know a lot about Latios and Latias. They happen to play a major part in my plan."

"Yeah, so, what about em?" Mal asked irritably not catching on as to where he was going.

"I want you to take me back to the Cave of Origin and take me to the Soul Dew. If you don't cooperate... I'll make you," he said, sneering.

"Forget it!" Mal cried. "You're not getting your hands on that gem!"

"You don't want to take the easy way out? Fine then," Maxie looked at Tabitha. "Karania's ill, and I'll let her die. I'm not afraid to let her at all."

Mal gasped and growled, "What did you do to her you monster!"

"I've been starving her, that's what, Brat. Do you feel like cooperating, now that Karania's life lays on the line?" he asked, having a feeling his threat would work.

"I suppose, but I still don't like it!" Mal retorted angrily. "She just better get better!"

"No, she won't. I'll poison her food. She won't know what's happened. Her life will drain bit by bit each day, do you understand that?" Maxie obviously wasn't kidding this time around. "And I can start right now, you know."

Mal's eyes went wide, "You'd do that to her if I don't agree...?" Mal managed to squeak out.

"ARE YOU DEAF? WHAT IS IT THAT YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND?" Maxie bellowed, stamping his foot in frustration. "I WILL! I'LL DO IT RIGHT NOW!"

"Okay fine! I'll do it! Just don't hurt Karania!" Mal cried.

Maxie took a deep breath, trying his best to calm down. "There... now, that wasn't so hard, now, was it?" he asked.

Mal glared at him, but didn't answer. She knew that too much was riding on the outcome of the retrieving of the Soul Dew to argue any further.

The corners of Maxie's lips twitched slightly. "We'll leave in a few hours. I think that will work out, hmm?"

"And Karania? What will you do about her?" Mal asked with crossed arms and narrowed eyes.

The Magma leader nodded. "Don't worry, we'll take good care of her."

Mal let out a sigh of relief, "Okay good..."

Maxie turned to Tabitha, "Take her back to her cell. I'll fetch her once I'm ready, understood?"

"Yes sir, come on..." Tabitha said to Mal grabbing her wrist and dragging her out of Maxie's presence.

"Soon... very, very soon..." Maxie clasped his hands together, grinning smugly.

Several hours later, Maxie came to Mal's cell and took her out of it. "The time for your part in my plan has begun, but to make sure you don't back out, I'm taking Karania with us so you won't consider chickening out."

"Do you understand?" Maxie said. "I'm not kidding around."

"I get it, but isn't Karania too sick to walk?" Mal asked glaring at Maxie. "You said you'd take good care of her!"

"Do not question my ways." He answered simply.

"Fine, but if Karania gets hurt, I won't be happy." Mal replied crossing her arms.

He sighed, and took Mal by the hand, leading her out of the building and into the jet. "Just come on, I'm getting impatient."

As Mal was being led onto the plane, she saw Tabitha carrying a blanketed sleeping Karania in his arms and carried her to a row of seats and laid her down slightly sideways after making her comfortable with a pillow and several other blankets after he had buckled her in.

Mal pulled free of Maxie's hand and ran to her friend, "Karania…. I know you can't hear me, but it'll be all right…. I won't let anything happen to you…." Mal whispered in Karania's ear so that Maxie couldn't hear the words she spoke.

"Sit down," Maxie commanded once he noticed Mal whispering to the sleeping Karania. "Don't get any ideas, do you understand?"

"Fine", Mal moved to the seat behind Karania and sat down so that she was still near her but couldn't speak to her.

Throughout the flight, the Magma Leader kept a close eye on the two, his leering face striking intimidation into Mal. Forty-five minutes had passed since he last spoke, and the silence was beginning to disturb him. "...There isn't much more waiting," he said, breaking the silence. "As soon as we land in Sootopolis, we're going straight to the cave, and the Soul Dew is mine. The only reason you're coming with us is because you know exactly where the Soul Dew is, am I right?"

"Yeah I do, but what do you plan to do with Karania once you have the jewel?" Mal asked trying to keep her annoyance out of her voice.

"That's none of your business, you urchin," he replied, sneering.

"You told me you'd take good care of her!" Mal cried completely forgetting that Karania was sleeping in the seat in front of her own.

"And I will!" Maxie growled at her.

"But this plan is none of your business at all. You'll retrieve the Soul Dew, then come back." Maxie said irritably. He was becoming impatient with the girl's attitude towards him.

Karania stirred and moaned, she seemed to have awakened from her peaceful slumber when Mal had cried out in her ear.

Maxie snapped, "Now look what you've done!"

Mal quickly tried to get Karania to go back to sleep, but she didn't know what to do.

Maxie leaned back in his seat, though aggravated, putting one hand to his forehead. He wouldn't say anything else past that.

"Mal? Is that you?" Karania asked sleepily as she opened her eyes. Karania seemed like she was sick, she looked like she might have a fever or something.

"Karania!" Mal took the other girl's hand in her own, noting the fact she was slightly limp. "Are you okay? How do you feel?"

"Really tired... How did you get here?" Karania asked her friend wanting to know what was going on since she had been removed from most goings on for awhile.

"It--" she began, then caught what appeared to be a glare from Maxie in the corner of her eye. "...I..."

"It's nothing important," Maxie replied to Karania. "Just a quick business trip."

Karania nodded faintly, she seemed to be burning up with fever. Karania seemed like she could barely keep her eyes open she was so tired.

The redhead glanced up at Maxie, a look of pure hate in her eyes. "You better not be lying about Karania, you hear me?" she hissed. Turning to the window, Maxie didn't answer.

Karania looked puzzled but before she could ask any more questions, she fainted. As soon as Karania fainted, her face seemed to go pretty pale, she looked like she didn't feel well at all.

Maxie noticed this. "...As soon as we land, you'll lead me directly to the Soul Dew, get it for me, then we come back. I'll set both of you free then. Deal?"

"What about medical attention for Karania?" Mal asked. The Magma Leader avoided that question.

Mal touched Karania and quickly pulled her hand away and looked concerned. She looked at Maxie, "She's burning up with a fever!"

"She'll have to deal with it, then..." he answered, with a hint of annoyance in his tone.

"What do you mean, 'she'll have to deal with it'? You said you'd take good care of her! I don't think you're doing that!" Mal cried looking at Karania and what condition she appeared to be in.

"I haven't enough time right now. She'll last for a while, don't worry." Maxie replied looking at Mal.

"A while? And how long is that supposed to be?" Mal cried.

Taking another deep breath, Maxie sighed. "Long enough for you to get the Soul Dew--" he began to continue, but was interrupted once more.

"You haven't answered any of my questions at all, you thug, do you know that?"

It was certainly the final straw for Maxie. He stood up quickly, stamping slightly, and roared, "SHUT UP!"

Karania jumped, jerking out of sleep and fell off the seat onto the floor she had been so startled. She was now lying on the floor, trying to get up but couldn't since she was wrapped tightly in several blankets.

Mal began to try and help her up, but Maxie beat her to it. Despite the fact that he was trembling with rage, he handled Karania gently, placing her back in the seat across from him.

Karania closed her eyes and feigned that her eyes were tired in order to send Mal a psychic message of where the fake Soul Dew gem could be found within the cavern of the Cave of Origin.

After receiving the message, Mal looked out of the corner of her eye at Karania, nodding.

Mal hoped Maxie hadn't noticed, but how could he notice anything if Karania still had her eyes closed and appeared to have fallen back asleep. Mal didn't know, she just hoped Maxie wouldn't decide to make anything of it since she had already yanked his chain about as far as it would go without retaliation.

The jet landed after an hour or so, Maxie and Mal determined to get their deal over with as soon as possible. As they stepped out and on to the damp grass, Maxie turned to Mal.

"Go." Maxie said looking at Mal.

She turned, looking confused. "Wait a moment... aren't you coming with me?"

"No, I'm staying here with Karania. I really shouldn't leave her with her being like this..." Maxie replied with a deep annoyed sigh.

"You liar," she replied, scowling, then as she was about to continue, thought, 'Wait... this will make things easier, then... I can go, get the Soul Dew replica, then come out. He won't notice... will he?'

Maxie glared at Mal before he said, "Well! What the heck are you waiting for? GO!"

'Okay... but to make this quick or not, I don't know.' she thought, looking around. 'Would it be smart thinking to go drop by the police station, or...?' Mal turned, checking to see if Maxie was still watching her; however, his back was turned for the moment.

She made her decision, and began up the stairs, away from the cave, turning her head back. An obstacle of sorts was blocking her way, and of course, she bumped into it before she realized it.

"Oh, sorry, my bad--" she began, looking up to the person's face.

"Mal?" Lance looked confused. "Where's Karania? I thought you were traveling with her?"

"I was, I--" she struggled to explain. "Lance, she... er... Maxie's got her, I'm supposed to find the Soul Dew, and..."

"And Karania? How is she?" Lance cried out with worry clearly written in his tone.

Mal blurted, "She's sick, really sick!"

Lance took a step back, the news had hit him hard, "I think I know a way we can get him to get Karania off their plane... It'll be a trick of course, but it might work..."

Maxie thought he felt his heart stop when he first heard Lance's voice. It was over for him, most likely.

Suddenly Lance's head appeared in the doorway of the plane, he glanced inside quickly noting Karania's location before he dashed inside and ran to her. "Karania..." Lance said lifting her into his arms and noting how sick she was.

"You!" Maxie roared, quickly walking over to Lance.

Lance grinned and headed in the direction of the exit while carrying Karania. He moved in a very fast pace in the hopes that he could get away from the plane before Maxie could follow him too far.

He became quite peeved (not that he wasn't already) when Lance grinned, and ran after him. "Come back here, you brat!"

Lance began to walk even faster as he neared the exit. He dashed through it and began to run away from the plane in the hopes of getting Karania to a safe location, hopefully in Lance's thoughts, the hospital.

Maxie broke into a sprint, rushing after Lance. "You've no meaning of meddling in my plans, you..."

"All bets are off when you mess with my girlfriend!" Lance shouted back at Maxie over his shoulder as he kept running.

Instead of replying, the Magma Leader increased the speed of his sprint, drawing a gun from the inside pocket of his jacket.

Lance continued to run towards the entrance to the hospital thinking that Karania deserved medical treatment as soon as humanly possible.

Mal had recently returned from the Cave of Origin, and without noticing the gun in Maxie's hand, ran up to him. "I've got it!"

Maxie turned toward her, distracted, and pointed the gun at her. "Get out of my way!"

Lance used the slight distraction to his advantage and reached the doors to the hospital and ran inside with Karania.

Now content with herself, Mal dropped the Soul Dew, stepping back. "Hey, wait, don't shoot...!"

Maxie turned away from Mal, walking up the steps to the hospital. 'When I get my hands on you,' he thought, 'You're dead. As will be everyone else in there...'

Mal saw what Maxie was up to and turned and ran in the opposite direction towards the police station.

As she made her way towards her new destination, the police officer inside had been on the phone with another chain of authorities. He had spotted the Magma Leader, and intended on capturing him. He looked up as Mal burst through the door.

Mal looked slightly out of breath but she still seemed to have plenty of energy for a spunky girl like herself while she waited to tell the officer her news.

"Just a moment," he said to the other officer on the phone, and glanced up at Mal. "What's the problem?"

"The Magma Leader is heading towards the hospital! I think he's going to do something bad if he's not stopped!" Mal cried.

The officer nodded. "I've reported that to the air squadron stationed in Mossdeep... they'll be here soon. For now, don't go anywhere near there, alright?"

"Two of my friends just went in the hospital! My friend Karania and her boyfriend Lance... I don't know if he's after them or what... Maxie had captured both me and Karania earlier, but..." Mal broke off not sure what else to say.

The officer appeared frustrated. "Just wait, okay? We'll handle it."

Mal sighed and nodded, and walked away.

Inside the hospital, Lance had carried Karania up to the front desk waiting to find out what he needed to do to get her help.

The nurse looked up and looked Lance in the eye and asked, "What happened to her?"

At that moment, Maxie had pushed through the door, screaming, "NOBODY MOVE!" as he fired two warning shots.

Karania jumped and woke up with a start and looked up to see Lance's face. "Lance..." Karania said weakly with a weak smile upon her face.

Maxie's eyes connected with the nurse's immediately. Quickly, he walked up to Lance and pressed the gun to the back of his neck.

"I warned you, didn't I?" he said.

Karania moaned, she didn't feel well at all. She looked like she had a very high fever that was causing her a lot of discomfort.

Lance narrowed his eyes, "Karania needs help you idiot! You're holding that up!"

Maxie ignored Lance. "Put her down."

"For what reason?" Lance cried.

Maxie tightened his grip on the gun. "Are you deaf?"

Karania tried to sit up and wrap her arms around Lance's neck to make herself feel better before she settled back down.

Having noticed Karania, Maxie turned the gun on her.

"Leave her alone!" Lance cried. "She's sick!"

"I'll deal with her 'illness' when you start listening to me. Now, put her down before I get angry," Maxie said, though in fact he was much past angry.

Lance glared at Maxie and shook his head, "Why should I? You'll just grab her and run!"

Maxie didn't bother trying to regain his patience, and inched the gun closer to Karania's face. He didn't reply to Lance, either, for the matter, instead choosing to throw a glare at him.

Karania shot Lance a very afraid looking look which almost made his heart melt at how afraid she seemed to be. Lance finally made up his mind and set Karania back on her feet and tried to support her somewhat and keep a pretty good grip on her so Maxie couldn't grab her and run off with her.

Maxie turned the gun back to Lance. "Let go."

Not having a choice in this, Lance let go while looking at Karania with concern written in his eyes.

Though his next move was predictable, Maxie grabbed Karania's wrist and ran, pointing the gun behind him.

Karania tripped and sank to the ground, it was apparent that she didn't have the strength to walk, more less run like Maxie wanted her to do.

He didn't notice, and continued to run, literally dragging Karania behind him.

Karania grimaced and looked at Lance hoping that he'd help her, as she couldn't do anything to save herself.

Lance looked outraged at how Maxie was dragging Karania and ran after him, hoping to put a stop to this before he hurt Karania any more.

The jet seemed further away with each step he took, and he began to panic. What if he didn't make it, and Lance caught him?

Eventually, Maxie reached the jet, but was horrorstruck-- the sound of a police siren became audible. He stood there for a moment in a daze, then came to his senses and yanked the door to the jet open, shoving Karania in and leaping in after her. Soon afterward, the jet began to rise into the air as it began to take off

Maxie figured his getaway would be simple, and managed to get a nice distance away from Sootopolis before receiving a message from the Mossdeep Air Squadron. "Drop the controls and surrender. If you do not comply, we will have no choice but to use force."

Inside the plane, Maxie shook his head and charted a new course that would hopefully outmaneuver the other.

Minutes passed, and the captain of the Air Squadron received no reply from the Magma Leader. He sent another message, and after receiving no reply of that one, fired at the wings of the jet.

He didn't mean to have made the situation become chaotic, though. The right wing began to smoke, and eventually burst into flame.

Within the jet, Karania felt something warm and looked over and jumped, the right wing was on fire. She tried to scramble away from it, but she couldn't move too far from it since it was so crowded there.

In the cockpit, Maxie swore angrily. It was inevitable-- he would have no choice but to surrender. The flames began to spread faster...

Karania squealed, the flames seemed to be inching ever closer to where she lay. This was frightening Karania.

"Dammit!" Maxie shouted as the controls began to shoot sparks. It would be impossible for him to regain control of the jet, and he quickly stepped back to grab Karania. He didn't bother telling her what he was going to do, and opened the side door to the jet, holding her in his left arm. He didn't bother thinking about what would happen, and jumped. It seemed an eternity before he hit the lukewarm seawater, pulling Karania up next to him.

Karania gasped as she felt herself being surrounded by something wet as she couldn't swim as someone was holding her.

Back in the air, a police helicopter had been following Maxie's daring move. "Stop; don't move!" the inspector inside cried.

The Magma Leader realized he didn't have any choice, and continued to tread water. It was over.

"Send him down..." the inspector murmured, and the pilot complied, lowering the basket down. A medical assistant was already present, and held out a hand for Maxie once he was within range.

Maxie held Karania up so that the medical assistant could reach her.

He nodded, taking her hand and pulling her in before he grabbed Maxie.

Maxie sighed and allowed himself to be hauled into the basket alongside Karania. Karania looked like the exertion in the ocean might be the end of her as she was still very sick.

Sootopolis happened to be the closest haven nearby, and the destination was set. Fifteen minutes passed, and they landed in front of the hospital, taking both of them inside quickly.

"Get Karania immediate attention. We'll handle Maxie, okay?" the inspector said to the nurse, tipping his hat.

The nurse nodded and wheeled Karania off into the critical care unit for treatment while the inspector looked after her concerned with how sick Karania seemed to be.

After a moment of staring after Karania, the inspector gestured to have the two officers nearby lead Maxie to the prison compound's infirmary. In a few moments, all three were gone.